ASHLAND -- As the year comes to a close, Ashland Source's newsroom is making an intentional choice to highlight the positive or otherwise progressive news that came from 2020.
We're well aware of how COVID-19 has impacted the year and didn't feel the need to rehash what has already dominated this year's news.
The pandemic was not the only newsworthy story of 2020. Projects moved forward across Ashland County. New businesses opened, and existing ones expanded. People came together to support one another -- sometimes because of the pandemic and other times for unrelated reasons.
We hope you'll enjoy looking back on Ashland County's 2020.
News you won't want to forget
The newest addition to Ashland University’s campus is meant to enhance the college experience for student veterans.
The Jack W. Liebert Military & Veteran Resource Center was made possible in part through a $1 million gift.
The Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center broke ground on a 20,185 square-foot expansion at 527 East Liberty Street in May 2020.
The $7.2 million dollar project, which will include an indoor waterpark and fitness center, is expected to be complete early next summer.
Before the pandemic, the Edison Elementary School's Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) surprised Officer Jeremy Jarvis with a pair of Hulk gloves to use as he greets students every morning with his routine fist bumps.
He received regional attention for his efforts.
When Stanzi Moser of St. Edward School flew to Tulsa, Oklahoma this past November to compete in the competition, she and her pinto horse commendably represented Ashland with their performance.
This news from November will have an impact for years to come.
Organizations across Ashland County will receive more than $1.7 million in state funding to support 11 community projects, including four that Mayor Matt Miller says will be transformative for downtown Ashland.
How county and city projects progressed
The planned improvements for the Tom Kruse Wildlife Conservation Park in Montgomery Township began in March when a small fishing pond was drained.
The newly renovated street sits adjacent to "The Pump House District." This area will be undergoing major development in the coming years.
The county purchased the 44,000-square-foot building for $146,000 in April.
Located next to Ohio Fire Pizza, a 9,000 square-foot downtown park will be installed, featuring three life-sized bronze statues depicting a lion, tiger and a bear.
There will also be a black iron archway installed at the entrance, featuring the yet-to-be-announced name of the plaza. The irrigated courtyard will feature a covered stage and will occupy the location of the previously contemplated downtown splash pad.
In November, Ashland City Council unanimously approved selling the 10 East 7th Street property to Abacus Industrial Development for $100 in exchange for the removal of the decaying structure.
Demolitions began along Ashland's proposed Center Run Trail in April. Page Demolition and Excavating started to tear down the first few structures, located along portions of Cleveland Avenue and Main Street -- beginning at Bicentennial Park (near the Dairy Queen) up to Miller Street.
The structures were removed to restore the riparian corridor, or the area along Town Creek, which was called "Center Run" on early maps. Currently, the structures exist within a flood plain.
Eventually, the city plans to add trail along the creek.
The Ashland Fire Division officially broke ground for the city of Ashland’s second fire station in October.
Construction is expected to be complete by June 20, 2021.
How new businesses opened and expanded
Tuesday, March 24 marked the Black Fork Bistro's first day of business.
Doors opened at 11 a.m. for the 153 West Main Street eatery, and within 90 minutes more than 50 orders were already placed.
Ashland natives Sean and Carly Little opened South Street Grille in the 100-year-old building at 121 South Street, next to Substance Church.
Ohio Fire features both inside and outside dining as well as a bar. The new restaurant opened on Ashland's Main Street earlier this fall.
A-Town Tap, which took the place of Tap Room on Main after it shut down, opened at 47 E. Main Street right across the road from Ohio Fire.
The 15,000 square-foot athletic facility opened in January 2020 after an extensive renovation led by local businessman Ben Ferguson.
The space was a former rodeo barn that had sat vacant for nearly two decades.
Josh Coffy calls the first floor at 43 West Main Street the "Port."
The 4,600 square-foot space is an extension of what he's informally operated as a coworking space previously at 12 West Main Street, which also offers desks and amenities.
Schoonover Industries was to expand its existing facility at 1440 Simanton Rd. by an additional 9,650 square feet, a project that will allow the metal fabricator to serve more customers.
The house at 446 South Market Street feels especially welcoming and homey to lifelong Loudonville resident and third generation firefighter, Joe Kiefer.
Kiefer, who renovated the property into a vacation rental with his wife Lara, grew up inside the quaint, two-story house.
The house and nearby barn were built in 1931 by Kiefer's great-grandfather and served as the Kiefer family home for generations to come.
The Inn at Ashland Woods was managed by the McClain family of Newark. The group also manages several other assisted living facilities throughout Ohio.
The fast food restaurant will be located directly beside the Denny's near the intersection of State Route 250 E. and County Road 1575 in Ashland.
Located on State Route 250 and George Road, the $14 million building will expand OhioHealth services in Ashland.
How the community gave
When an Ashland man won a shopping spree recently from a downtown store, he chose to give it to a local nonprofit rather than spend it on himself.
According to Farm & Home Hardware general manager Chuck Hodous, the winner Mike Bradley immediately asked to donate his $500 prize to Associated Charities and the Ashland County Food Bank.
When Keith Guynes learned he'd receive a $1,200 stimulus check from the federal government in late April, he set out to use the money for other people.
Instead of buying something he wanted or needed, the Nankin resident and Cold War Veteran decided he'd purchase equipment for the Nankin-Orange Township Fire Department.
Curtis Smith, 92, could have bought a new tractor with his stimulus check.
The longtime Hayesville resident and Korean War veteran said he has what he needs, so he could have bought something he wanted. But instead Smith decided to donate his entire $1,200 to the Hayesville-Vermillion Fire Department.
How the community came together despite hardship
Years from now, the people of Jeromesville will talk about the funeral procession held Thursday, March 26 for lifelong resident Bill Cameron.
They'll remember how the community was determined to recognize the owner of Big Rock Farms despite restrictions on large gatherings, how more than fifty tractors drove down South High Street for the occasion and how one beloved individual could bring people together from a distance during the coronavirus pandemic.
StoryWalk Ashland features large laminated pages mounted to wooden posts along the park's walking path.
The owners of approximately 20 3D printers across Ashland County mobilized to manufacture face shields for employees at area nursing homes, hospitals and retail and restaurant workers.
Launched and led by Ashland resident and business owner Josh Hildebrand, the Ashland County Open Source COVID-19 Medical Supplies Facebook Group facilitates collaboration and share open-source designs for key supplies.
The driveway leading to the Ashland City Justice Center was named "Alting Avenue" for Lt. Garry Lee Alting, a 25-year veteran officer with the Ashland Police Division (APD) who died earlier this year.
According to Kenny Libben, curator of the museum, “with everything going on this year, we felt like everyone could use some excitement — and maybe even some extra gifts.”
The result was a 12-day scavenger hunt, called “The 12 Days of Christmas Pickles.”
Just in time for the holidays, a group of Ashland community members are sending messages of hope and holiday cheer to hundreds of patients at the state's six psychiatric hospitals and several private hospitals.
The note cards with hand-written messages and original artwork were mailed Monday, Dec. 14 through a collaborative effort by Adult Advocacy Centers, Ashland County Mental Health and Recovery Board and the Writing For Recovery group at Pathways Peer Recovery Program at Catholic Charities Community Services.